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Another Voice: Clash between Christianity and Islam is not inevitable

By Robert Poczik

I am as aware as anyone of the dangers posed in the world today by Muslim terrorists, which need to be tracked and countered at every turn. How we choose to proceed with those efforts and our related foreign policy actions merit concerted care and thought.

There are those who believe there is a contest underway for world domination between Christianity and Islam, that this is an inevitable clash of civilizations, and that it will ultimately be resolved by war. Let’s hope and pray that is not the case.

Here are some perspectives to consider. Of the 195 countries in the world recognized by the United States, 105 are majority Christian countries and 49 are majority Muslim countries. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2010 the Christian population was an estimated 2.1 billion. This was approximately 31 percent of the world’s population, making it the world’s largest religion. The Muslim population was estimated to be 1.6 billion, approximately 23 percent of the world’s population, making Islam the world’s second-largest religion. In 2010, Christians and Muslims together made up nearly 55 percent of the world’s population.

Both faiths are growing. The Pew Research Center projects that between now and 2050, the number of Christians will grow to an estimated 2.9 billion and the number of Muslims to 2.7 billion. At that point, approximately 61 percent of the world’s population will either be Christian or Muslim. Almost all of this growth will occur in sub-Saharan Africa, the fastest-growing region of the world.

If a war were to take place between Christian and Muslim nations, it would truly be a global war beyond our comprehension. It almost certainly would bring a halt to the flow of commerce and trade around the world, probably resulting in a worldwide depression. It would almost certainly be a very long war, and might well involve the use of nuclear weapons.

We might bear in mind that our involvement in Afghanistan, a single Muslim country, has now gone on for 15 years, twice as long as World War II, and the top U.S. commander there says the conflict is a “stalemate.” Imagine if there was a war that involved a number of larger, more powerful Muslim countries, spread around the world.

It could be a war that would mean our great-grandchildren would live in a world absent from the experience of peace. In fact, those who study such things say that we are now living in the most peaceful period in world history, something I think we should think hard about relinquishing.

My plea is that we do not accept there will be an inevitable confrontation between Christians and Muslims, but rather search for those commonalities of purpose and mutual self-interest that will promote increased communication, collaboration and growth.

Robert Poczik is a retired educator who gives talks to groups around Western New York on such topics as the future of world religions, better understanding Islam, global Christianity and America’s changing religious landscape.

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